Back in December 2014, Ferndale High School administrators sent an email to students’ parents and guardians warning of the dangers of products known as “spice.” At the same time, Discover Ferndale questioned gas station convenience stores and found 1 selling the spice products and reportedly had been for years according to the owner. The station owner said when his current inventory ran out, he would not be reordering more, adding there had not been as much demand since the recent legalization of marijuana.
On February 27, 2015, Ferndale Police officers executed a search warrant at the Ferndale Express Lane Gull gas station, 1846 Main Street, that stemmed from suspicion of selling spice. This was the location Discover Ferndale had earlier reported as selling spice product.
According to a City of Ferndale announcement at the time of the search warrant, “During the investigation it was confirmed that store attendants sold a product appearing to be Spice and provided receipts to customers indicating they had purchased cigarettes.”
As a result of evidence collected during the search of the gas station, husband and wife owners Magdy and Tahany Adawalla were charged in May of 2015 with one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and one count of delivery of a controlled substance.
According to information provided in Superior Court, spice is the street name of product containing a class of drug known as synthetic cannabinoids. It is dried plant material sprayed with chemicals packaged for retail sale, often in gas stations and smoke shops, and is smoked by the user.
Over the nearly 3 years since charges were filed, Adawallas’ attorneys and Whatcom County prosecutors have made several appearances in Whatcom County Superior Court as the case appeared headed to trial.
According to recent documents filed with the court, Adawallas’ attorneys said prosecutors failed to establish the Adawallas knew the substance was considered a legally controlled substance. The law regarding sale of the products had changed less than a month before the search warrant was executed and there was no indication they were aware of the change attorneys said.
This month, the case in Superior Court was dismissed with prejudice with the understanding it would be resolved in municipal court.
According to Whatcom County Prosecutor Evan Jones, all parties came together in Ferndale Municipal Court where Adawalla and his wife pled guilty to separate infractions of improper handling, storage or keeping of any chemical substances, mixtures or wastes as per the Ferndale Municipal Code and were fined $1,000 each.